We build, develop and promote grassroots financial cooperatives across the Asia-Pacific.
By providing these communities with access to financial services, we give people a safe place to save their money and take out loans, helping to create a better future.
What does a Credit Union do for the people we work with?
The Model Credit Union Development project provides financial services to increase financialinclusion in rural communities that otherwise would not have access to financial services. Project staff have worked collaboratively with communities to establish financial cooperatives based on the principles outlined by the International Credit Union movement codified by the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU).
In our second year, CUFA have implemented an initial savings development plan and rolled out four phases – community development, cooperative education, financial literacy education and group formation.
Credit Union Development
This plan has been delivered through a highly successful series of workshops and meetings that have been centred on building trust and cohesion to achieve capacity. In combination with this strategy, the project has found that door to door field support training is very important in building this trust and encouraging saving mobilisation. Given the positive results, CUFA will continue to implement this support through the local field officers.
CUFA is currently providing support to four communities in three provinces; Kampong Cham, Ratanakiri and Steung Treng, and have directly and indirectly benefited over 13,132 Cambodians.
In line with the mandate of the project, these beneficiaries are exclusively in rural areas that have previously had no exposure or access to financial services at even the most basic level. 40% of those who have been involved in the project have been women, empowering them to be part of the financial decision making process, to gain an understanding of money and have access to training and support.
The project is currently operating across Timor Leste in ten sub villages, and three sub-districts – Remixo, Letofoho and Maubisse. Throughout the region there are a mix of both male and females participating in the program who are each benefitting from the provision of financial services.
Credit Union Outreach
CUFA is strengthening the capacity of existing credit unions through the provision of technical assistance to support the governance, financial management and sustainability of individual credit unions. These support activities focus on in-field assistance and the provision of targeted training modules to build existing capacity.
Thirty nine credit unions and one federation are currently receiving technical assistance throughthis program. CUFA is working collaboratively with the Cambodia Association of Cooperatives (CAC), to assist in the successful implementation of operational best practice across six areas; good governance, savings and membership mobilisation, managing delinquency, committee member responsibilities, loan application practices, and financial account keeping skills. CUFA also fund an honorary board position held by an Australian Mutual movement professional who ssists CAC with governance issues as well as providing technical support.
As a result of the training there has been an increase in credit union membership, the total savings of the credit union have grown, and the participation of women as decision makers at the committee and board level have grown. The project beneficiaries reap the value of a more financially accountable, transparent and well-managed local financial institution as well as greater financial knowledge as members who can make informed financial decisions in the best interest their families.
The Outreach program provided support to 23 credit unions across 10 districts, who are receiving support in eight key areas; savings mobilisation, leadership, good governance, micro-enterprise, loan processes, dividend calculations, account keeping, and monthly interest allocations. The technical support was provided to committee members to help build capacity, with the aim of achieving operational best practice.
The outcomes achieved positive results in relation to both membership and savings growth, demonstrating a strong trust for the credit unions and their ability to improve their financial transparency to members. Across all the credit unions, there was a 37% increase in their membership from 3,257 to 4,463 members. This growth was primarily achieved by 19 of the credit unions, while the remaining 4 maintained a consistent level of membership.
Six project staff, together with 20 Community Cluster Facilitators, provided support to the credit unions and their members, building their operational capabilities across a number of areas. There has been substantial improvement in bookkeeping where information recorded in member passbooks is leading to greater transparency and strengthening trust. Credit unions have also been assisting members to create detailed business plans, which are allowing more accurate assessments when it comes to determining the most appropriate loan. Loans are determined by the needs of the member and their ability to repay the loan.
CUFA supported the establishment of The Oceania Confederation of Credit Union Leagues (OCCUL) as the peak body for credit unions in the Pacific providing support services and representation. The concept for this network body was founded by delegates of Pacific Island countries that attended the Pacific Credit Union Technical Congress of 2008 and 2009.
Currently OCCUL is funded by Credit Union Foundation of Australia (CUFA) using monies raised from fundraising efforts by a group of Australian credit union leaders. It is envisaged that OCCUL will be financially independent in the future.